A swimmer died after he was pulled from the ocean off the coast of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, officials say. His death was the third in three days.
The death toll in the Outer Banks rose on the evening of Sept. 6 when ocean rescuers attempted to save a 36-year-old man from Connecticut, according to a news release from Nags Head officials.
Nags Head Fire and Ocean Rescue and Police Departments responded to a call of a man in distress in the ocean, about 50 yards north of the fishing pier.
An Ocean Rescue guard pulled him out of the water and began performing CPR until Dare County Emergency Medical Services took him to a hospital, officials said. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.
His death marks the third off the coast of the Outer Banks since Sept. 4, when a 28-year-old woman from Washington, D.C., disappeared below rough surf and was seen floating face-down, according to the National Park Service.
She died in Avon, about 45 miles south of Nags Head.
On Sept. 5, a 68-year-old man from Hillsboro, Ohio, was swimming in the water off Cape Hatteras National Seashore when bystanders heard him call for help, officials said in a release. The bystanders pulled him to shore, but after CPR was performed, he was pronounced dead.
“High energy surf conditions, including large waves and life-threatening rip currents, are forecast to be present all week,” park officials said in the release. “Visitors wading into the surf, even as shallow as waist deep, may be overcome by large waves, suffer injuries, and may be overtaken by rough ocean conditions making it difficult, if not impossible, for all but the strongest, most experienced swimmers to survive.”
More swimmers have been swept out by rip currents, even if they weren’t in deep water.
A woman posted in an Outer Banks Facebook group thanking a lifeguard for rescuing her husband, who she said was caught in a flash rip current Sept. 6.
“My son and husband were playing in the waves when a flash rip current swept my husband away from our son and out to sea,” she wrote. “It was the scariest thing seeing my son come out of the ocean without his dad.”
She said the ocean looked calmer than it had all week, and they stayed in waist-high water. The flags are “no joke,” she wrote.
What is a rip current?
Rip currents are “powerful, narrow channels of fast-moving water” that happen on the coasts of the U.S. and in the Great Lakes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
About 100 people are killed by rip currents each year in the U.S., NOAA reported. Lifeguards rescue thousands of people from rip currents annually.
Experts say people can take steps to stay safe from rip currents, including:
Check the local water conditions before getting in.
Talk to a lifeguard at the beach about the conditions.
Only swim at beaches where lifeguards are present.
Don’t assume great weather means good swimming conditions.